How to increase employee productivity through exercise.

Conquering Sluggishness: How Exercise Sparks Employee Productivity

Posted June 3, 2015 by Caroline Whitney in Managing Your Team
Promoting exercise in the office can seriously increase employee productivity. Here are a few tips on how to setup these incentives in your office.

Sitting in an office all day can make us feel a little sluggish. No matter how busy our minds are, if we’re sitting in front of a computer screen for 8+ hours, we won't best utilize our time spent at work.

Alternatively, stress can force employees into a downward spiral of anxiety and inefficient work. While there are a number of ways to reduce stress in the office, its quite easy to feel trapped by stress. 

So how to increase productivity, while also combating sluggishness and stress as an employer?

Promoting exercise and an active lifestyle at work is not just another perk - it’s good for business. Studies show that exercise increases productivity and makes people happier. And who doesn’t want a happier, more productive workplace? Here are a couple of quick tips and solutions. 

Want more ideas for motivating your team? Get our guide on 109 ways to appreciate your employees on a budget

Gym Discounts

One way to combat listlessness and get your employees feeling energized and motivated is to give them a headstart. Offering a gym discount in your company’s benefits package is an excellent way to do that. You may be aware of companies that offer corporate discounts to specific gyms, but what if your hard-working employees need flexible options? If you can help your employees reach their fitness goals while improving your business, why not provide choice?

Some programs allow employees to choose their own gym or activity center, offering a discount to wherever they choose. Perhaps your employees love Classpass, or want to join a new hot yoga studio. Or maybe they’ve been meaning to try the new cycling trend. Offer them 25% percent off the monthly fee.

You can also encourage employees to leverage your company’s health insurance plan, if possible. Some plans offer partial or total reimbursement for membership fees. Get your employees excited about being active by showing you care, and give them the tools to make it a part of their routine.

Offer Breaks Throughout The Day

Studies show that breaks throughout the day help to boost employee productivity.  Encourage your employees to take five minute breaks here and there. Whether it’s stepping outside to pick up lunch, chatting in the break room, or taking a walk around the block - even small, one to two minute breaks can help in a BIG way (not to mention the benefits of sunshine exposure)!

You’ll be surprised how much productivity goes up when your employees are taking healthy breaks during the day. Additionally, while some of us work in traditional, 9:00- 5:00 offices, it’s worth considering allowing your employees to take longer breaks.  As long as an employee meets their hours and achieves their goals, allowing them to pop out of the office for a quick gym trip during the day could do wonders for their energy.

Walking Meetings

Taking a stroll and getting fresh air doesn’t have to be limited to breaks. Corporate innovator Nilofer Merchant recently gave a TED talk promoting a simple idea with big benefits: walking meetings.

While the obvious benefit of grabbing a cup of coffee and taking your meeting on the road is physical activity, Merchant suggests that thinking on your feet can promote creativity and enhance problem solving skills, too.

Some of our most influential and dynamic business leaders have famously used walking meetings as one of their best practices. Even if it’s only a few minutes to chat with an employee, a business partner, or a competitor, a walking meeting could be a welcome break from the fluorescent monotony of the conference room.

Standing Desks

Standing desks are becoming a popular trend in the workplace for a reason. Studies increasingly reveal that sitting all day is pretty bad for us.  Being stuck to our desks and immobile for hours on end is linked to having a slower metabolism, as well as a plethora of health problems.

Using a standing desk and alternating standing and sitting throughout the day can help burn calories and improve your overall health, as opposed to gluing your bottom to a chair. Invest in a couple for your office, and the intrigue will spread: everyone will want to try one.  

Happy teams perform better. Learn how to keep your employees happy and productive.

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Attend Athletic Events As A Company

Team-building exercises help improve employee morale and build rapport, but joining an athletic event as a company will also- you guessed it- help your employees stay active. Your office could join a corporate challenge, attend a laid-back fun run, or join a neighborhood kickball team.  Think about what activity your officemates would truly enjoy doing; team and group exercise like basketball, rowing, tennis, and soccer are linked to higher likelihood of attendance than say, running on the treadmill.  

Try linking the positive team energy to your company’s philanthropic ambitions; there is an ever-growing number of runs, boat races, dance-a-thons, sports leagues, and other events that support charities and nonprofit organizations. Improve your company’s culture and feel good about your impact within your community while investing in yourself and your employees. Encourage employees to seek out and promote these opportunities. To find races in your area, check out this useful tool.  Cheer each other across the finish line!

Office-Wide Challenges

We’ve all heard of weight loss challenges, but what about fitness challenges? Be creative! Invest in affordable fitness trackers like FitBit for your employees so they can challenge each other’s step count each day.  Inspire employees to bike or walk to work.  Encourage employees to use the stairs- when appropriate of course.  Maybe not if your office is on the 30th floor of a Manhattan highrise, but if it’s on the 3rd floor… come on.  You can do it! Set the example.  

Endless Possibilities

The possibilities for keeping employees active in your workplace throughout the day are endless.  We all get caught up by deadlines and shifting priorities, so be innovative and think outside of the box to promote the fitness and activity that is right for your company.  Brainstorm new ideas, and take suggestions. Support employees that need an evening for sports leagues or group training by adjusting their schedule- or yours!  

Advocating for a healthy atmosphere will communicate to your employees that you value an active lifestyle and that you believe in their personal aspirations. More importantly, it will show your employees that you value them.

Your employees will be healthier, happier workers, and when it pays off big-time for your company, you will be too. Now - I’m feeling sluggish.  Time to go to the gym!

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.